• April 18, 2024

Zimbabwe Growers Cheer Extension of Planting Deadline

 Zimbabwe Growers Cheer Extension of Planting Deadline
Photo: Taco Tuinstra

Tobacco growers in Zimbabwe have welcomed a government decision to extend the tobacco planting deadline, reports The Herald.

Originally, farmers were required to clear their seedbeds by Dec. 31. However, due to the late start of the 2023-2024 season, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, has postponed the deadline to Jan. 15.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association Chairman George Seremwe said farmers appreciated the government’s gesture, adding that it would lead to an increase in the planted area.

“The rainfall season started just before Christmas for most tobacco areas and the dryland farmers are busy planting, hoping to have finished planting by Jan. 15,” he was quoted as saying. “As the season seems to have shifted due to the dry spell, the combination of current rains and the deadline extension will enable the hectarage to increase, thereby allowing the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board [TIMB] to adjust its projections on hectarage and yields upwards.”

“This is a noble idea that will allow those seedlings in seedbeds that had survived the recent moisture stress from lack of water and excessive heat to resurrect after the current rains,” said Tobacco Farmers Union Trust President Victor Mariranyika.

While granting the extension, Minister of Agriculture Anxious Masuka warned that growers who fail to adhere to the deadline would risk stiff penalties and even prison sentences.

As of Dec. 15, the planted areas was down 27 percent, from 75,4111 ha in 2022 to 55,170 hectares in 2023, according to the TIMB.